Twin tricks tons of fun for CFLs' 300-pounders

November 17, 1994|By KEN ROSENTHAL

They've tricked high school girlfriends and college professors, so why not the CFLs? The halftime score was 37-0 over Winnipeg. John Earle wanted his twin brother, Guy, to share in the fun.

So, they switched jerseys.

That's right, switched jerseys.

Offensive linemen all look alike, anyway. The Earles, 26, also sound alike and play alike.

Who would know if John was wearing No. 63, and Guy No. 60? Each is a guard. Each weighs 300 pounds.

That's right, 300 pounds. Big boys. Big eaters. The kind who return home at holiday time, and inspire panic in the grocery stores of Hazlet, N.J.

"That's why I'm hoping they go to the Grey Cup," said their stepfather, Richie Souza. "They won't be home for Thanksgiving."

"If they make the Grey Cup, we save money," added their mother, Jackie.

"If they don't, I'll take the whole week off to prepare."

Why, the only thing the Earles enjoy more than mealtime is playing time -- as their little stunt against Winnipeg on Oct. 29 attests.

The CFLs coaches asked for trouble, playing John the entire first half and benching Guy. The Earles plotted their conspiracy, then tiptoed into the shower room and

peeled off their jerseys.

"It took us like 10 minutes," one of them related yesterday. "Those jerseys are pretty tight."

John said that. Or maybe it was Guy. Frankly, there's only one way to tell them apart. Guy wears an earring, John a wedding ring. Evidently, the coaches forgot to check in the second half.

It was only the biggest game of the season, but the rout was on. Guy took over for John at right guard. John entered the game at left guard in the fourth quarter, masquerading as Guy.

The ultimate twin trick.

Only in the CFL.

"The coach came up to John the next day and said, 'You played a lot better in the second half,' " Guy said proudly. "I knew he was talking about me."

The coach, offensive coordinator Steve Buratto, didn't learn of the incident until a week later -- and even then, only after the twins confessed.

Buratto said he understood.

He, too, is an identical twin.

"I wasn't too surprised," Buratto said. "I've pulled a couple of those pranks myself."

Head coach Don Matthews was less amused.

"He got mad at us," Guy said. "Well, not mad at us. He just told us, 'Don't do it again.' "

Matthews has gotten no such grief from the CFLs' other set of twins -- Malcolm Goodwin, a linebacker, is 235 pounds, and his brother Matt, also a linebacker, is only 205.

As for the Earles, Guy vowed yesterday that the twins won't pull another double switch in Sunday's Eastern Division final against Winnipeg -- or ever again, for that matter.

"This," Guy announced, "was the last time."

Too bad.

When the twins were in eighth grade, there was this girl who liked John -- a high school sophomore, in fact. Alas, John wasn't interested.

One night, the girl visited the Earle home. John was so mortified, he pulled Guy into his bedroom.

They switched clothes, and the girl never knew the difference.

"It's true," Jackie Earle said ruefully. "I was very upset about it. I said, 'How could you do that?' "

But the pranks only got better -- or worse, depending on your perspective.

The Earles' reunion with the CFLs marks the first time they've been together since 1988, when they attended Independence Community College in Independence, Kan.

John was a year ahead; Guy had redshirted a season. John had to miss a history exam while touring senior colleges. Guy again proved an able substitute.

"My brother is not very astute in history," Guy said.

At Independence, friends would joke, "The Earles can't do anything without each other. You see one, the other comes lumbering around the corner five seconds later."

But the truth is, they haven't always been together.

They went to high schools in different states -- their father lived in Kansas, and Guy moved in with him, the better to focus on basketball. He didn't play football then. He was an all-state guard.

The twins again drifted apart after Independence, John heading to Western Illinois, Guy to Chadron (Neb.) State. John bounced around with four NFL teams. Guy spent last season with the Redskins. But neither ever got past the practice

squad.

On Aug. 15, six weeks into the CFL season, John was cut by Atlanta, and Guy by the Redskins. Baltimore signed both three days later, and still hasn't figured out which is which.

Both Earles are born-again Christians. Their mother can't distinguish their voices on the phone. Their offensive coordinator can't distinguish their blocking techniques on film.

"The only way I know who's who on tape is by where they're playing and what number they're wearing," Buratto said. "It's very tough to tell the difference."

Buratto knows the feeling. His twin brother, Stan, visited from Vancouver, Wash., earlier this season and stood on the sidelines for the game against Ottawa.

At one point, Guy came running off the field and started telling Stan about something happening in the game. Stan, of course, had no idea what Guy was talking about.

Four weeks later, against Winnipeg, the Earles exacted revenge.

"Turnabout is fair play, I guess," Buratto said.

Their mother wasn't so sure.

"They're lucky they didn't get in trouble," Jackie Earle said. "I figured they were going to do something. They've played a lot of tricks, on a lot of people."

High school girlfriends, college professors, and now professional football coaches, too.

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